“A clear commitment by industry to support students with mentors, during and after the placement is required if we are to move to students today and engineers from tomorrow.”

Dr Ian Wilson Senior Lecturer, Coventry University

University: Coventry University

Partnership: Unipart Powertrain Applications

Author: Dr Ian Wilson

Location: West Midlands

Introduction to the university and what engineering courses it offers

Through a partnership with Unipart Powertrain Applications, Coventry University developed a unique BEng programme to enable its students to graduate ‘workplace ready’.

Describe your partnership/your links in industry

The Coventry University BEng in Manufacturing sees the students study one day on campus and then put their knowledge into practice by working on a live industrial project at the university’s Institute for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (AME), based at UPA’s Coventry manufacturing site. 

How do students benefit?

This gives the students access to a real, live workplace experience throughout the academic year, working alongside experts in departments including engineering, finance, purchasing, production and logistics.

Students are also given the opportunity of a summer placement within one of Unipart group’s manufacturing facilities, further enhancing the students’ development of workplace competencies.

How will you improve the partnership/programme in the future?

In the 2016-17 academic year a further three students will spend a semester abroad at Purdue University, USA, through the SIA partnership, staying on to undertake an industrial placement with the company that can last up to 12 weeks.

How does the university benefit?

The model that has been developed at Coventry University by Wilson and Smith, is a transferable model not only for manufacturing students but of those who study in other engineering disciplines, it only takes a leap of faith by industry to open its doors and let students and Pracademics in and by universities to see they are part of the problem and solution to industries needs of ensuring graduates are ‘Workplace ready’.

Top tips

The need for graduates to have meaningful work placement experience is becoming more and more essential, especially if industry is to move away from its current practice of taking two years to further impart workplace ‘Graduate competencies’, as they currently see it wasting time and money to enable graduates to become effective contributors to the organisation.

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